Showtime Boxing International is a new series on Showtime promising to “Bring you fights’ from around the world, shining the spotlight on international fighters”
The spotlight couldn’t have shined any brighter on IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (34-0 23 KO) on Saturday from the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England as the hometown hero didn’t disappoint making a successful first defense of his belt by stopping Jo Jo Dan (34-3 18 KO) by TKO at the end of round four.
Dan was the IBF #1 ranked mandatory challenger but from the opening bell, Brook made him look like a lesser opponent.
Brook dominated round one by establishing his straight right hand followed by left hooks. The straight right would bekey throughout the night. Dan, a southpaw, appeared a little off balance with his orthodox counterpart. He moved forward at times but Brook’s speed kept him honest.
Dan began round two by trying to close the distance but Brook landed a straight right which wobbled Dan. Seeing that Dan was visibly shaken by the shot, Brook attacked and dropped Dan with a right uppercut. Dan was up and took a quick count. As the fight continued, Brook attacked again and dropped Dan again with a straight right. Dan is able to beat the count but is wobbly on his feet as he becomes target practice for the rest of the round but shows his mettle and makes it to the bell.
The third was a sloppy round as Dan lunged forward to try and smoother Brook, his legs visibly gone. Brook has another big round landing just about everything he throws.
Dan lands his best punch of the fight in the fourth round, a left hand, it has little effect causing Brook to unload a flurry of punches the last, a glancing blow off the top of Dan’s head which drops him again. Dan is up again and Brook attacks Dan to the bell and lands a huge left hook just as the bell sounds depositing Dan on the canvas.
Dan gets up, takes the mandatory eight count, and returns to his corner. In between rounds, Dan’s corner has seen enough and stops the fight.
A dominant performance for the new champion in his first title defense against a very tough opponent who had never been stopped.
“What a heart, I caught him with some good clean shots, he kept getting back up” said Brook
Continued Brook, “I’ve been out for a while with the leg,…… there’s much more to come from me, that was just to knock cobwebs off, I’m going to be back in June in a massive fight, I’m back.”
When asked who he would want to face next, Brook mentions “(Amir) Khan, (Juan Manuel) Marquez, and Brandon Rios” Promoter Eddie Hearn was then asked about future opponents, “There’s a little venue (Wembley Stadium) available on June 13, if Amir Khan’s watching, give everyone what they want. It’s for the biggest payday; it’s for a world title, who wants to see Brook vs. Khan?
Brook was asked if he had a message for Amir Khan, “If you’re watching, come on, get in here with me, I know you’re delicate around your whiskers, I’ll take you out”
Brook did what a champion is supposed to do to the number one threat to his title, dominate him decisively. Brook looked amazing considering he was lying in a hospital bed six months ago unsure of his future.
“I didn’t think I’d ever walk again, let alone box again, and here I am defending my world title in style, I’ve been given a second chance, the best is yet to come”
Brook’s “Special One” moniker has taken on a whole new meaning over the past seven months.
Kicking things off on Showtime on Saturday at 6:15 p.m. ET from the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, England will be hometown hero and IBF welterweight champion Kell Brook (33-0 22) making the first defense of his strap against Romanian born Canadian Jo Jo Dan (34-2 18 KO). This bout will be shown live in the US and is part of Showtime Boxing International.
Last August, Kell Brook was on top of the world after a masterful performance in defeating Shawn Porter by majority decision and taking his IBF welterweight title. Less than a month later the new titlist would be fighting again, albeit this time in a hospital, not in a ring.
Brook was involved in an unprovoked attack while on vacation in Tenerife, Spain and was slashed over his left thigh with a machete. Brook lost blood at an alarming rate as the fear of death hit his subconscious. The rest is a blur as he woke up in a hospital bed recovering from hours of surgery that required a blood transfusion and the closing of the wound with over fifty stitches and staples.
“I don’t know how much blood I lost but I was told it was a lot,” Brook said. “I couldn’t understand much but I heard ‘critical’, it was so scary. I was panicking, “Will I fight again? Will I walk again?” The doctors couldn’t say, but they were so calm”
A traumatic event such as that would delay most from continuing on their journey but not “Special K”, a champion is built of a different cloth. After months of rehabilitation with no lingering effects, the champion is ready to fulfill his role.
“After everything that’s happened over the last six months, it feels incredible knowing I will be defending my world title in Sheffield. I’m not looking past Jo Jo. I know he will bring the heat, but I want to get this mandatory defense done and then target those mega fights that are out there in the division.”
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn spoke about Brook’s return,
“March 28 will be an emotional night for Kell and the team; I remember being by his bedside in September in a Spanish hospital after that horrific knife attack, it looked like his career was over. He has shown incredible physical and mental strength and looks better than ever in camp. Fans on Showtime will get to see, in my opinion, the best 147-pounder in the world light up a 10,000 sell-out arena on March 28.”
Born Ionut Dan Ion, but using the ring name and alias Jo Jo Dan, is a southpaw who comes into this shot at the title on the strength of five straight wins which included two wins over Kevin Bizier, one of which was his last fight a split decision last December. His only two losses have been to the Turkish Warrior, Selcuk Aydin, one by split decision and one by unanimous decision although that fight was also very close on the cards.
Dan is confident in his chances against Brook,
“Kell has not fought anyone like me, I believe in myself and I don’t think he can bring anything I can’t deal with on fight night. I saw his last fight where he won the world title and it was a great performance, but I just let my team study him in depth and come up with a winning strategy.
“I have waited a long time to get a world title shot, so I am determined to take advantage of this opportunity. My prediction for the fight is simple — Jo Jo Dan becomes the new IBF welterweight world champion.”
This fight should be a chess match early as both fighters adapt to the other’s speed and style. Dan will move forward aggressively as he has shown in the past but can also box and mixes up his punches nicely when needed. Dan tends to reach with some of his shots and his defense in not always tight so he will have to be wary of Brook’s speed.
This will be Brook’s first test in an actual fight after the leg injury. His sparring and training have gone extremely well but the true test will come here in this “real world” scenario. Dan is an active fighter who will pressure Brook but his aggressiveness may be his undoing. Brook is an excellent counter puncher and his movement and feints should provide openings for those counters. Brook’s ring IQ is solid and he will look to execute all of the best practices for success when an orthodox fighter faces a southpaw. He hasn’t faced one in several years but has beaten multiple southpaws in his career all by stoppage.
This fight is billed as “UnbreaKable” a reference to Brook’s resolve after what could have had a fatal outcome. Brook understands that he was given a second chance and has a great desire to not only defend his title here but to move forward and possibly face the winner of another “high profile” welterweight matchup occurring on May 2.
Wherever his journey takes him, one thing’s for sure, he’s already won no matter what life throws at him.
Portions of this article contributed to BTG.